I tipped my hat to Mother Nature and was humbled.
I had hopes of fishing a well-known steelhead trib in April, but it seemed like it was permanently dirty and above average flow, which made finding fish harder. I'd heard of quite a few nice fishing being caught in the usual spots, but having to share one hole with 4 other anglers isn't really my cup of tea, so I opted to try elsewhere for the most part. One of the few times I fished for steelhead, I had hookups but none landed. One trib was full of spawning suckers, which was pretty fun to get to take flies.
Since last years opener was so great, my friend Chris and I had plans to head over for the opener, but after looking at snowpack levels and the weather forecasts, we decided to give it a few weeks.
Eager to see what was going on in the area, another friend, Mike and I headed over to check things out. We were disappointed to find that fish weren't in their usual Spring spots, and the water was still icy and flows were still high. Don't know until you try, right?
The following weekend, the snowpack was gone and the water levels didn't look terrible. Chris and I headed back over with plans to have sore arms by the end of the day. Turns out, the fish and rivers had other plans. Surprisingly, most of the bigger water we wanted to fish was still just too high and dirty. It had rained the night before we headed out and turned some of the smaller rivers into mud as well, so fishable water was very limited. One of my favorite spots, a spillway of a small Lake was looking fine. We both fished for about 30 minutes before Chris switched to a spinning rod and hooked up right away into a fat, dark maroon rainbow...sweet looking fish! We ended up on a secret little Connecticuit river trib out in the middle of nowhere, which always produced BIG wild fish in the Spring. We were in luck, the water was average flows and clarity was great.
I started things off with a bang and had an 18" bow in the net right off. A feisty guy though, he made it back into the water before Chris could snap a pic. Chris kept things going by landing his own rainbow of the same size. He was happy with the memory, so no pictures were taken.
We worked out way up the river and found some super aggressive fish willing to chase down almost anything drifted or stripped near them. The obstructions on the river made it really difficult to set the hook on fish without getting tangled in trees. I had probably 6 strikes, 3 hookups and none landed! Chris had better luck with his spinning setup, and landed a few more chunky 18" bows. We decided to head out of the woods before dark to avoid getting lost.
I'll admit, I was pretty bummed. I was prepared for a double-digit fish day but ended up with one landed out of the potential 8~ fish that wanted to tango. That's why they call it fishing, right?
We did, however...find a nice little pod of suckers in a remote lake that were more than willing to take a few san juans! I was happy I got to break out my 3 wt and my old clicker reel. Boy did it purr....
|Hard to tell by the picture, but this fish was actually bright orange. I've never seen such a vibrantly colored sucker before. It also lacked the usual well-pronounced dark lateral line that you see on white suckers.|
Chris was lucky enough to have some great friends in the area that let us crash at their place for the night, so we could get back out there in the A.M. They even cooked us an awesome dinner!
Great view as we woke up in the morning (late start)
We started late and decided to try the Willoughby river for steel. It was muddy the day before, but the flow dropped quite a bit overnight, so we had high hopes. We'd heard that the fish started running just a week before we got there, so we were eager to get on the water! After getting there, the usual spot (waterfall) was pretty full. We didn't really have any interest in fishing it anyway, it's always a crapfest with all the guys and their flyrods and reels with mono line instead of regular fly line and leader (can somebody tell me the purpose of this? I cannot see an actual reason to use that setup other than to LOOK like you're fly fishing when you're in-fact not.)
We headed upriver, to open water that's produced for us before. The clarity wasn't too bad, and flow was great. If only there had been fish......We spent hours fishing and hiking next to the water in search of fish. I really don't think we even walked by a fish. Certain holes I trampled through to see if any fish took off, but I couldn't spot a single fish. My guess is they'd already moved into headwaters to spawn....seems like we missed our chance.
Having regretted not fishing the hot river the day before(Why didn't we go where we knew there was fish?! Is what I was thinking. Chris brought up a good point though, we probably would have wished we tried the Willoughby if we didn't go...), we packed up and headed out late-afternoon to get home before 4.